Tuesday, December 9, 2008

You Can Be A Movie Star

Writen by Susan Trivers

Blockbuster movies are in the news this summer. Whether you love swashbuckling adventure, the backbiting and changing alliances of a high-powered, image conscious business, or the adventures of a mild mannered man who flies to the rescue, you get involved in the movie from the first moment and stay glued to the screen until the last fade out.

Great movies can tell us a lot about how to be great speakers. Great movies are a collection of very deliberate decisions about many details that are packaged in such a way that we don't see them individually. We feel them and we get absorbed by them. You can do this for your audiences.

Grab 'em!

How does a great movie capture your attention from the very first moment? Can you describe the visual and sound effects that got to you immediately? You can probably give an general description but not describe the exact details, and that's the way the director wants it. He or she wants you immersed in the mood, not conscious of specific details.

You'll have heightened awareness, you'll think "this is going to be good", and you'll sit back and let it happen. You'll forget everything else that's going on in your life while you're absorbed in to the movie.

Do you do this for you audiences when you're speaking? Do you grab them so completely in the first moment that their attention stays fully on you from start to finish? You can probably name a few speakers who have done this when you've been in the audience. How do they do it? And how can you do it?

You can grab the audience from the first moment by creatively using your voice, your body language and your words. Think about creating a mood, such as suspense, curiosity, or familiarity. This is the same as the director who combines scary music with a benign looking landscape. Your mind is attracted by the disconnect, even though you can't articulate in words what has attracted you.

Perhaps there are a series of location scenes that tell you about the environment of the action. In "The Devil Wears Prada," the opening scenes show New York City at a very fast pace. This fast pace, the relentlessness of the city's movement, tells us that relentlessness and speed are two themes that will play a significant part of the story.

Instead of modeling your opening on the infinite number of other business speakers who begin in the same boring way, model your opening on the effects and mood of your favorite movie. You'll have the audience involved from the first moment and they'll mentally stick around long enough to learn from the rest of your speech.

Hold 'em!

Now that you've got their attention, how do you keep it? Again, we can learn from the movies. Does your favorite movie stop the action to announce each change of scene or turn of the plot? No, great movies seamlessly take you along for the duration of the story. Each new scene, new character or plot twist is introduced smoothly, so you are swept along without a stop in the momentum.

What this means for your speeches is that you must move from point to point without a stop in the action. First, be sure that each point is related to the others. They can be three perspectives on the same topic, or three different topics, but you must be able to move from one point to another with great transitions that keep the momentum going. Second, you will embed your facts and figures, your technical language and your solutions into mini stories, which flow from one to the other. If you are presenting with others, each presenter will keep the momentum flowing by crafting transitions that are part of the story, rather than "cuts" in the action.

Third, if you must use Power Point, you'll be sure that you are telling the story and that the slides provide back up for you, rather than letting the slides take center stage with your comments just being a sound track. No matter how exquisite the scenery, or fanciful the special effects, in a great movie it's the characters who are the focus and move the story from one scene to the next.

The next time you go to the movies, see if you can figure out how the movie captures your attention from the first moment and keeps it till the last fade out. When you can mimic that kind of impact in your speeches and presentations, you'll be a standout when you are In the Spotlight.

Susan G. Trivers coaches executives, sales teams and licensed professionals to use blockbuster movie techniques to ramp up the quality and memorability of their speeches and presentations. Her clients no longer subject their audiences to deathly, boring multi-media presentations and routine speeches that the audience won't pay attention to. Transform your presentations into events that deliver benefits to your audience and results to your company. http://www.susantrivers.com

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